Is glass noodles keto-friendly?

Quick Answer

Glass noodles, also known as cellophane noodles, are a type of translucent noodle made from starch and water. The starch used can vary, with sweet potato starch and mung bean starch being common. Glass noodles are low in carbs and calories compared to traditional wheat noodles, making them a keto-friendly pasta alternative. One serving of glass noodles contains around 5-10 grams of net carbs, which can fit into a keto diet as long as portions are controlled. When buying glass noodles, check the nutrition label and ingredients list to ensure a low carb count. Avoid any glass noodles made with rice or wheat flour. Overall, glass noodles can be included on a keto diet in moderation as part of low carb meals and recipes. Monitor your total daily carb intake when eating glass noodles to remain in ketosis.

What are Glass Noodles?

Glass noodles, often called cellophane noodles, are a type of translucent noodle made from starch and water. They are called “glass” noodles because of their clear, glossy appearance, similar to glass.

Some common names for glass noodles include:

– Cellophane noodles
– Bean thread noodles
– Crystal noodles
– Fensi or fen si
– Tanghoon
– Saimin
– Harusame
– Biáo Cài

Glass noodles originated in China, where they are commonly used in stir fries, soups, and salads. They are also popular across Asia in Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese cuisine.

The main ingredient in glass noodles is some form of starch. Common sources of starch used include:

– Mung bean starch
– Sweet potato starch
– Potato starch
– Tapioca starch
– Arrowroot starch
– Rice flour
– Wheat starch

In addition to starch, glass noodles are made simply with water. The starch and water are combined and extruded through a pasta press to create the long, thin noodle strands.

Unlike traditional wheat noodles, glass noodles do not contain gluten. They also cook very quickly by soaking in hot water or broth for just 1-2 minutes until soft.

Compared to wheat noodles, glass noodles are significantly lower in carbohydrates and calories, making them appealing for low carb and ketogenic diets.

Nutrition Facts for Glass Noodles

The nutrition profile of glass noodles can vary somewhat depending on the specific starch used. However, in general glass noodles are low in calories, fat, protein and carbs compared to wheat pasta.

Here are the nutrition facts for a 1 ounce (28g) serving of plain glass noodles without any additional ingredients:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 76
Fat 0g
Protein 0.4g
Net Carbs 18g
Fiber 0g

As you can see, a 1 ounce serving of plain glass noodles contains:

– 76 calories
– 18g net carbs
– 0g fat
– 0.4g protein

The majority of calories in glass noodles comes from the starch itself.

Since they are made of nearly pure starch bound with water, glass noodles lack protein, fat, fiber, vitamins and minerals. Their main nutrient is carbohydrates coming from the starch.

However, the carb content is still significantly lower than regular wheat pasta, providing around 5-10g fewer net carbs per serving. This makes cellophane noodles a great pasta substitute for low carb and keto diets when consumed in moderation.

The carb count can increase slightly depending on any added ingredients mixed with the glass noodles, such as oil or salty seasonings. Check labels for nutrition information if buying pre-seasoned glass noodle varieties.

Are Glass Noodles Keto-Friendly?

Glass noodles can be included in a keto diet when consumed in moderate portions, counting the net carbs into your daily allowance.

The standard ketogenic diet limits net carbs to 20-50g per day. Given that a 1oz serving of glass noodles contains around 18g net carbs, they can fit into a keto diet as part of low carb meals.

Some tips for fitting glass noodles into a keto diet include:

– Measure portion sizes using a food scale. Limit to 1-2 oz per meal max.
– Count the net carbs from glass noodles toward your daily limit.
– Avoid going over your total daily carb allowance.
– Eat glass noodles along with low carb vegetables and proteins.
– Use glass noodles in keto-friendly Asian recipes.
– Make glass noodle salad with veggies and keto dressing.
– Find recipes that use small amounts of glass noodles as a pasta substitute.

As long as you account for the carbs and don’t overeat glass noodles, they can be included in keto. However, wheat-based noodles and rice noodles will contain too many carbs and should be avoided on keto.

Stick to glass noodles made from mung bean, sweet potato or other low starch varieties. Check labels and ingredients lists, since some glass noodle brands may add wheat, rice flour or sugar.

With mindful portions and proper carb counting, glass noodles can add variety and versatility to your keto diet as a nutritious substitute for regular high carb pasta.

Health Benefits of Glass Noodles

Here are some of the main health benefits associated with glass noodles:

– Low calorie – Glass noodles are much lower in calories than wheat pasta, making them helpful for managing weight.

– Low carb – The carbs in glass noodles are significantly lower compared to regular pasta, allowing them to fit into low carb and keto diets more easily.

– Gluten-free – Since they are made from starch and water, glass noodles are free of gluten and wheat. This makes them a safe choice for anyone with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.

– Provide manganese – Glass noodles made from mung bean starch supply a good amount of the trace mineral manganese which supports bone health and metabolism.

– Contain antioxidants – Certain glass noodle varieties provide antioxidants including carotenoids, vitamin C and polyphenols that can help reduce inflammation.

– Easy to digest – The starch in glass noodles is typically easy to digest for most people. They may be better tolerated than whole grain noodles for those with digestive issues.

– Versatile ingredient – Glass noodles can be used as a substitute for wheat pasta in all types of international recipes, from Asian to Italian cuisine.

– Long shelf life – Properly stored, dried glass noodle packets can last for up to a year in the pantry before opening.

Overall, when consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet, glass noodles offer a range of nutritional benefits from being low in carbs and calories to providing specific vitamins, minerals and antioxidants depending on the starch used to make them.

Downsides and Precautions

Despite their advantages, there are some downsides to keep in mind with glass noodles:

– Lack nutrients – Glass noodles supply carb calories and energy but lack protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals found in whole food sources of carbs. Don’t rely on them as your sole carb source.

– High glycemic index – The starch in glass noodles is very easily broken down and may cause sharper blood sugar spikes compared to fiber-rich whole grain pasta varieties.

– Low protein – With under 1 gram of protein per serving, glass noodles are a poor source of this important nutrient. Make sure to eat them along with protein-rich foods.

– Easy to overeat – The thin, translucent noodles can be easy to over consume since they weigh so little. Use a food scale and stick to moderate portions.

– Gut irritation – In sensitive individuals, the pure starch content can potentially cause digestive upset, gas or bloating when eaten in large amounts.

– Food sensitivities – While glass noodles are gluten-free, the mung bean starch may irritate those with legume allergies. Check ingredients carefully for potential allergens.

To prevent side effects, glass noodles are best enjoyed occasionally as part of an otherwise balanced, real food-based diet containing plenty of protein, fiber and nutrients. Those with diabetes or blood sugar regulation issues should be particularly mindful of portion sizes.

How to Prepare and Cook Glass Noodles

One advantage of glass noodles is they are quick and easy to prepare. Here is a simple process for cooking with glass noodles:

1. Take the dry glass noodle strands out of the package. Do not discard the water packs included.

2. Briefly rinse the dry noodles under cool water to remove any dust or starch. Drain well.

3. Place the noodles in a bowl and pour over enough hot water, broth or mix of both to fully submerge them. Use at least double the amount of liquid to noodles.

4. Allow the glass noodles to soak for 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. They will turn opaque white as they absorb the liquid.

5. Drain the reconstituted noodles through a fine mesh strainer, shaking to remove excess water.

6. The softened glass noodles are now ready to use in stir fries, soups, salads and more. Their texture is springy and chewy once cooked.

Avoid over soaking glass noodles or they can become gummy and mushy in texture. A brief 1-2 minute soak is all they need to become fully hydrated.

For added flavor, use broth, coconut water or cooking wine instead of plain water when soaking the noodles. Or season them after draining with sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar, chili sauce or other desired sauces and spices.

Cooked glass noodles will keep in the refrigerator 3-5 days and can be added throughout the week to various dishes both cold in salads or reheated in soups and stir fries.

Keto-Friendly Ways to Enjoy Glass Noodles

Here are some delicious keto recipes and ideas for how to prepare glass noodles:

– Veggie glass noodle stir fry – Sauté celery, bok choy, peppers, mushrooms and more in coconut oil or avocado oil before tossing with glass noodles.

– Cellophane noodle salad – Combine glass noodles with cucumbers, avocado, leafy greens, kimchi, smoked salmon and sesame ginger dressing.

– Thai coconut glass noodle soup – Simmer coconut milk with chicken broth, fish sauce, ginger and red curry paste. Add glass noodles, chicken, mushrooms and cilantro.

– Beef and broccoli glass noodles – Sear flank steak strips and broccoli florets. Deglaze pan with soy sauce and toss with soaked glass noodles.

– Sesame chicken lettuce wraps – Fill lettuce leaves with chicken, glass noodles, julienned carrots, toasted sesame seeds, avocado and spicy mayo.

– Summer rolls – Wrap soaked glass noodles, shrimp, mint, basil and lettuce in rice paper then dip in peanut sauce.

– Pho bowl – Add glass noodles, bok choy, chicken and bean sprouts to traditional Vietnamese bone broth seasoned with lime, chili and cilantro.

– Spicy tuna glass noodle bowl – Chill cooked glass noodles then serve with spicy tuna, edamame, sliced avocado, cucumber and ginger dressing.

The key when cooking with glass noodles on keto is to use them in moderation as a replacement for higher carb wheat noodles and pair with low carb vegetables, proteins and healthy fats. This allows the glass noodles to soak up flavor from the dish and stretches them as part of a complete keto meal.

Shopping for Glass Noodles

Glass noodles can typically be found in the Asian foods section of major grocery stores, health food markets or online. They are inexpensive, usually costing around $1-3 per package.

When purchasing glass noodles, look for:

– Low carb varieties like mung bean or sweet potato starch rather than rice or wheat-based noodles which are too high carb for keto.

– Short ingredient lists with only the type of starch and water. Avoid any added sugar or unnecessary additives.

– Brands without salty seasonings that add extra sodium and carbs. Look for plain glass noodles, or buy unseasoned and flavor them yourself.

– Small 3-4 oz portion-controlled packages that help prevent overeating. Or measure larger packages carefully when cooking.

– Organic brands if you want to avoid pesticides used on certain starch crops like cassava.

Check nutrition labels closely since carb counts can vary between brands, even in the same noodle style. Compare a few options to find one that best fits your keto macros.

Once opened, glass noodles will keep several months in a sealed container or bag. Their shelf life is very long compared to fresh pasta, so buy them in bulk to enjoy anytime.


Glass noodles can be an excellent low carb substitute for traditional wheat pasta, allowing you to still enjoy noodle dishes while sticking to a keto diet. Moderation is key, since glass noodles remain a high carb food. But when prepared in modest portion sizes, counted toward your daily carb limit and paired with veggies, protein and healthy fats, glass noodles can provide taste, texture and versatility to keto meals. Take care to choose low carb sweet potato or mung bean varieties, and whip up Asian-inspired salads, stir fries and soups to enjoy the benefits of these unique transparent noodles while maintaining ketosis.

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